Every July 4th the U.S. celebrates Independence Day with public fireworks and parades and a long weekend of family gatherings and more...
Not often enough do we
stop to consider what we’re really celebrating; like come November,
2022, will all our qualified fellow Americans have the same access to
the ballot box that we do?
Perhaps that’s why the Supreme Court could get by with basically completing their project of killing the 1965 Voting Rights Act on an extended July 4th weekend! We hear way too much about freedom these days—are we free to discriminate against LGBTQ individuals?; are we free to impose our religious view of women’s reproductive health on all American women?; are we free to choose not to vaccinate or mask-up and free to potentially spread a deadly virus to our neighbors?; are we free to spew hateful poison into our social airwaves, issuing death threats to public servants just trying to do their jobs and cyber-bullying anyone who dares to speak the truth?
All these so-called “freedoms” are about, IMHO, is avoiding any kind of responsibility for helping to create a civil, livable society for all of us, whether they look, worship or love the way you’d like or not. Yet, today’s “freedom fighters” are so often those waving flags and claiming to be the real patriots. Patriotic to whom, and to what set of values, I wonder?
What we rarely hear anything about around national celebration times is the elusive notion of equality—what should be a necessary corollary to and the flip-side of our democratic freedoms, but probably never really has been. Equality of opportunity has been the American dream, but manifesting that dream has been another story for far too many. In fact, if we use wealth and the political power it endows on people as one measure, there’s been nothing but rising inequality for decades, under the sway of corporate globalization, and to many who worry about the future of democracy, that’s a serious problem. One such scholar, Pierre Rosanvallon, suggests in his study entitled The Society of Equals that,
“...a generalized sense that inequalities have grown ‘too large’ or even become ‘scandalous’ coexists with tacit acceptance of many specific forms of inequality and with silent resistance to any practical stops to correct them.”1
Quite aptly, I think, Rosanvallon thinks this global trend towards increasing wealthy inequality is threatening the social fabric of many democracies. In his view it's been “the stealthy blade that is silently severing the social bond and simultaneously undermining social solidarity.”2 Maybe this explains why so many people refuse to take responsibility for doing anything for their fellow citizens; what’s in it for them? Yet, any time a bill is introduced that might help address the anger-producing wealth disparities by requiring the super-wealthy to pay their fair share of taxes for some important public purpose...we know what happens.
Astrologically, Rosanvallon’s concerns speak in general to the erosive/transformative impact of collective dynamics like Neptune and Pluto threatening the more local social dynamics represented by the Jupiter, Saturn and Uranus. Even beyond all this, however, we’ve been dealing with human nature and a rough couple years under the sway of a Neptunian pandemic that is far from “over.” So yes, we’re cranky and our social fabric is definitely fragile, and it’s far too tempting to project whatever grievances we have out on others (“those people”) with whom we have less in common.
I'm guessing we’re also cranky because the demands on our collective sympathies never seem to let up, and every time we look, there’s a new threat to our confidence that we can live safely and securely: record heat and wildfires in the unlikeliest of places; a building collapse with no sense of closure for grieving families; record historical droughts in some states, with record flooding in others. And we haven’t even gotten into the worst of the hurricane season!
Yet, we’re resilient and determined to make up for lost pandemic time: family gatherings abound, entertainment venues are booming; people are walking into restaurants unmasked and unconcerned. Yet people also look weary, but maybe I’m projecting; to my eye, the American body politic seems emotionally and spiritually depleted and in need of a long, healing opportunity to re-energize and re-group.
Perhaps this long weekend of family gatherings and feeling tentatively “normal” will help, but judging from last week in Congress, it may do nothing to improve our politics, which are looking more than a little ragged around the edges at the moment. To political historian Daniel Immerwahr, writing for the NY Times, we’ve become “sclerotic,” caught up in petty power struggles while truly important priorities like climate change go unaddressed. He decries our “lack of political imagination,” which he sees at the heart of today’s social malaise:
“This hardening of our political arteries is dangerous. It’s not just that needed legislation gets blocked; it’s that our civic culture is in crisis. When passion can’t flow easily into policymaking, it congeals as angry protest, growing wilder and more paranoid.”
I won’t recount here all the ways in which we’re not living up to our ideals or national potential these days; in fact, this is an ongoing story that I’ve been tracking on this site because important astrological transits and other dynamics continue to be at the heart of this collective odyssey. Age matters in national evolution, as it happens: at age 245 this very weekend, we are experiencing our national (Sibly) Pluto return, a return that is compounded and made even more difficult by Neptune’s current opposition to Sibly Neptune (chart not shown). Professor Immerwahr may or may not be aware of these passages, but his statement suggests that he’s clearly aware of their impact.
As a sovereign political Being that calls itself a democracy, we are indeed going through a transformative “death-rebirth” process, and it's hard to say whether there’s worse to come or not. As with any evolutionary change, there are broad, but subtle outer planetary dynamics (I.e., Uranus, Neptune, Pluto and their various cycles) providing the “ground” for this process, but the process is definitely punctuated with events that command our social and personal attention, sway public opinion and create important perceptions because they are far from subtle. This is especially so in the U.S. Sibly chart, where Capricorn Pluto exactly opposes Cancer Mercury (outer wheel, Biwheel #1 below).
One such event has been the tragic collapse of the Champlain So. Condo in Surfside, FL this past week. Its impact goes far beyond the individuals lost and still missing and the families grieving, however critical they all are. We are just beginning to hear the bigger picture questions and issues: for instance, why was nothing done years after inspectors made it clear to the building’s management that serious structural erosion and damage needed attention? And how do the challenges of climate change and Florida’s unique topography factor into the fragile state of this collapsed building and others built like it in that seaside area? We can see both the broad issues and the more personal level tragic results in the chart for that tragic event (Chart #1). Let’s take a brief look.
Chart #1. Champlain So. Collapse, June 24, 2021, 1:30 a.m. DST, Surfside, FL. Source: news reports. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast in Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software.
Mars in fiery Leo rules and trines this Aries rising chart, set for the reported time of the building’s collapse at 1:30 a.m. on June 24th, at the same time it widely opposes a potent Aquarius Saturn and squares Taurus Uranus, creating a tense earthy t-square. Mars clearly triggered the event portrayed here, although the shocking developments regarding earthy structural issues (Saturn-Uranus) are captured here as well. Apparently, cracks in load-bearing concrete are signals that shouldn’t be ignored.
Of course, the broader, less obvious issue of Florida’s eroding shorelines probably also factored into the condo collapse, and that’s represented here by Neptune in oceanic Pisces, lurking rather ominously with Pallas in the 12th, square the 9th house Sagittarius Moon. The people (and all who are grieving for them now) were sacrificed, unjustly.
Venus (Cancer) opposes Pluto (Capricorn), trines Neptune-Pallas and quincunxes Moon (Sagittarius); this would explain why reporters are uncovering information about financial schemes and stand-offs that may have delayed addressing structural issues, contributing to the tragedy; Neptune’s involvement here suggests corrupt wranglings between people, but time will tell.
I would say “with friends like this Venus, who needs enemies?” but in fact, Venus rules the Libra 7th house of “enemies” here, so it’ll be interesting to see how the investigation into this tragedy unfolds. “Follow the money” sounds like a good starting point.
The U.S. Solar return
On some level, the Champlain condo collapse could function as a metaphor for the peril we face with the corruption and “hardening of political arteries” that Professor Immerwahr captures so well this July 4th weekend. July 4th is more than Independence Day in this land, of course; it also marks our national solar return, which should be a time to refresh and renew our commitment to national ideals and purpose. Instead, breaking news suggests we’re about to embroiled in yet another Russian-led ransomware hack of hundreds of U.S. companies, deployed through a major Internet supplier network. The timing was significant, according to one expert:
“Cybersecurity researcher Jake Williams, president of Rendition Infosec, said he was already working with six companies hit by the ransomware. It’s no accident that this happened before the Fourth of July weekend, when IT staffing is generally thin, he added.
‘There’s zero doubt in my mind that the timing here was intentional,’ he said.”
We’re under no illusions about Russian intentions, of course, despite the supposedly civil Biden-Putin meeting last month. Putin knows well how to leverage our current Neptune-Pluto challenges to his purposes, even if he pays no attention to the astrology (I wonder). It’s a long story for another day, but there are reasons to be concerned that this tense situation will get worse before it gets better.
|Trump openly admired Putin's hold on power in Russia.|
So this July 4th it seems we are at a true crossroads, and in truth, that may not even be a bad thing, because nothing less than a serious existential threat is required to shake a person (or a nation) out of a Neptune-Pluto malaise. Looking “weak” is anathema to strong man types like Putin and Trump, so it’s interesting that in trying to empower himself, Trump’s presidency purposely weakened core U.S. institutions that his supporters entrusted to him. We can only make an educated guess who-all Trump was trying to impress, but it’s somehow not surprising that his business organization and CFO would be indicted the same weekend that Russian-backed criminals would go on to simultaneously attack U.S. businesses. Can’t make this stuff up, folks!
With all this drama and the background challenges we’ve already discussed in mind, let’s take a look at the U.S. Sibly solar return for 2021. If you’re new to solar returns, they are cast for the exact return of the Sun to the degree of that entity’s inception/birth each year, and the chart for that return is thought to capture an astrological snapshot for that entity’s year ahead. We’ll examine the solar return by itself first and to add a little more depth to the analysis, we’ll then consider how it works with the radix Sibly chart in Biwheel #1.
Chart #2. USA-Sibly (solar return), July 4, 2021, 10:52:36 p.m. DST, Washington, D.C. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast in Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software.
Sun (Cancer, 5th house) semi-sextiles Mars (Leo), sextiles Uranus (Taurus) and inconjoins both Saturn (Rx, Aquarius) and MC-Juno (Sagittarius). The 5th house placement of the Sun is benign enough, considering the 5th is the Sun’s natural house. I would take this house placement as a sign that our birth rate will appear robust, but it may come under some unusual constraints and pressures, as well (inconjuncts). Education and children will likely be a big focus this coming solar year, as will theaters and entertainment venues, however the Mars aspect to this Sun could denote violence and/or abuse towards children as well. This Mars forms a grand trine with Chiron and MC-Juno as well (Aries), reinforcing the possibility of trauma or woundedness. This may not impact children alone, but considering the MC (Sagittarius) conjoins Sibly ASC (Biwheel 1 below), whatever happens is likely to make the news in a big way and make us question who we are as a nation.
Aquarius rises; ruling planets Saturn and Uranus occupy the 12th and 3rd houses respectively. With this sign rising, it’s reasonable to expect a year marked by change, at times rebellious and unsettling. These placements of the ruling planets suggest that structural and “systems” imperatives will underlie tension that plays out in local arenas; in fact, Mars conjoined Venus (Leo) forms the third leg of a fixed t-square with Saturn and Uranus, which could indicate that unsettling events or changes involving the economy (Venus), the American workforce or the military (Mars-Venus occupy the 6th house) could transpire. House rulerships of these two (Mars, 2 and 10; Venus, 3 and 9) reinforce these possibilities and suggest that the year ahead in our international relations could also be volatile.
|More of this to come?|
From its 3rd house position, Uranus widely conjoins the Moon (Taurus), reinforcing the possibility that the disruptions caused by the fixed t-square will play out on the grass roots level. Tensions could run high, especially if some people feel they are being passed over by the strong economy we’ve been experiencing or disenfranchised by our systems. In other words, these disruptions will probably exploit the usual fault lines of class and race that have become so divisive lately. As I write this, Massachusetts is reporting arrests resulting from a police stand-off with several heavily armed men, dressed in military style gear and claiming to be in their wooded area for “training.”
Training for what is unclear. The reporting says “The men claimed to be ‘from a group that does not recognize our laws,’ according to a statement from the Wakefield Police Department ,” but it also stated that the group’s apparent leader claimed they were “not anti-government," so there’s zero clarity about the whole encounter. We do know that the FBI, which has issued serious warnings about the threat of domestic terrorism this past year, is busy investigating the group’s intent.
|Thousands of projects like this are needed across the U.S.|
Jupiter (Rx, Pisces) t-squares Nodal axis (Gemini-Sagittarius). If we stretch the orbs here, this t-square encompasses Juno and the MC (Sagittarius) as well. The mutable Nodes reflect an environment of swift, at times impulsive change and the challenge we’re faced with to adapt accordingly—it appears this environment will persist until the end of the 2021 when the Nodes back into fixed Taurus-Scorpio. This could mean that 2022 (the current solar year extends into next July, remember) will feel a bit more stable and grounded.
As for Jupiter’s role here, rising in the 1st house, a few degrees from the Aquarius ASC, it's possible that the rapid pace of change will be focused on expanding horizons and producing a “wave” of public sentiment and/or prosperity: Jupiter co-rules the 2nd with Neptune (also Rx in the 1st house in Pisces), and with more money pumping through the economy right now due to stimulus programs and robust job numbers, the question will be whether that largesse is distributed fairly or not (Neptune conjoins Pallas). The 1st house also pertains to an entity’s identity, of course, so the placement of these two significant points here perhaps signals a drive to revitalize the nation’s Spirit, writ large. What are our core beliefs and ideals as a nation, after all? How can we transcend the cynicism that threatens to overwhelm our better “angels” and further divide us?
Neptune and Pallas oppose Vesta (Virgo), suggesting that we need to refocus our commitment to higher ideals (among them, true justice) and compassionate collective engagement. This all makes sense when we consider that the pandemic (Neptune) is not over and it won’t be until the whole world is vaccinated, so it's time to help out with that imperative. From there perhaps we will be more likely to develop the positive global consciousness required to seriously address climate change. We can dream, can’t we?!
On another interesting, related note, The Guardian featured an interesting piece that speaks to Neptune’s role in the fossil fuel industry and in deceptive cover-ups. Both natural gas and oil are said to be ruled by Neptune, although there’s clearly a role for Pluto and its rule of the “Underworld” here. From The Guardian:
“An unprecedented wave of lawsuits, filed by cities and states across the US, aim to hold the oil and gas industry to account for the environmental devastation caused by fossil fuels – and covering up what they knew along the way. Coastal cities struggling to keep rising sea levels at bay, midwestern states watching “mega-rains” destroy crops and homes, and fishing communities losing catches to warming waters, are now demanding the oil conglomerates pay damages and take urgent action to reduce further harm from burning fossil fuels.
But, even more strikingly, the nearly two dozen lawsuits are underpinned by accusations that the industry severely aggravated the environmental crisis with a decades-long campaign of lies and deceit to suppress warnings from their own scientists about the impact of fossil fuels on the climate and dupe the American public.”
What remains of Saturn’s waning cycle with Neptune (their new cycle launches in 2/2026 at 0°+Aries) may be the timeframe during which this quest to hold fossil fuel conglomerates accountable will unfold, but we may not see actual results until that cycle begins.
This would be a good place to shift gears and examine the U.S. Sibly solar return next to the radix Sibly chart. Because solar return charts are usually used as the inner wheel in such biwheels for reasons that I hope will become clear, that’s what we’ll do here. This gives us a better idea about which solar return house overlays which Sibly house, a key factor in such interpretations. I will try to confine my remarks to the dynamics that build upon what we’ve already discussed above, with as little repetition as possible.
Biwheel #1. (inner wheel) USA-Sibly (solar return), July 4, 2021, 10:52:36 p.m. DST, Washington, D.C.; (outer wheel) USA-Sibly chart, July 4, 1776, 5:10 p.m. LMT, Philadelphia, PA. Tropical Equal Houses, True Node. All charts cast in Kepler 8.0, courtesy of Cosmic Patterns Software.
3rd house Sibly Moon-Pallas (Aquarius) conjoin Solar return (SR) ASC (Aquarius). An important, consequential year for We the People, apparently, one that will highlight and foreground local grass-roots, 3rd house issues like transportation, education, media communications and so on. Interestingly, SR rulers Saturn and Uranus are “in touch” between these charts: Sibly Uranus trines both Sibly and SR Saturns and SR Uranus inconjoins Sibly Saturn and squares SR Saturn. This makes it abundantly clear that these will be the planets (and the nexus of energies) that will dominate this coming solar year. This will be a year that demands (and will hopefully support) expertise, innovation, discipline and purposeful focus. Because these energies often produce stress, it could at times feel oppressive, restrictive, unjust and volatile. This combination should also, however, facilitate infrastructure projects and other necessary structural changes if Congress (Sibly Saturn) can get its act together and remember who it’s working for.
|"Speaks" for itself!|
SR MC (Sagittarius) conjoins Sibly ASC (Sagittarius); SR Jupiter (Pisces) widely squares and rules both. There should be some room for optimism this year, despite foreseeable stressors. This Jupiter also conjoins Sibly Moon and widely squares Sibly Uranus (Gemini), which in turn, conjoins the SR No. Node (Gemini), which suggests that change (perhaps progressive) in the Sibly 3rd house and 6th house realms will be foregrounded this coming year. Local communities, schools, labor forces and the military could feel that the ground is shifting beneath their feet, and with SR 4th-10th house Nodal axis falling across Sibly 6th-12th, quite close to the Sibly horizon, we’ll probably feel like many of the changes being put in place are preparing us for an important transition. It’s worth noting that Biden’s natal Saturn-Uranus conjunction ties into this SR Nodal axis-Sibly Uranus exactly—considering his infrastructure plans for the nation could be the big story this coming year, that’s quite a convergence.
SR Mercury (Gemini) exactly conjoins Sibly Mars (Gemini) and both t-square SR Neptune (Pisces) opposite Sibly Neptune (Virgo). This network of energies overlays SR 4th and Sibly 7th, SR 1st and Sibly 4th, SR 7th and Sibly 10th—in other words, almost all the cardinal/angular houses in both charts. Some of this should probably concern those looking for a peaceful transition to post-COVID existence: the misinformation wars we’ve seen play out across the nation could be coming to a potentially tense turning point here, especially with the involvement of Sibly Mars. We know that we have essentially “two Americas” when it comes to vaccine distribution; it’s hard to see that improving in the coming year, even as we help vaccinate the rest of the world. Unfortunately, that could create more spikes in our own cases and death toll, as the Delta variant rages on among the unvaccinated. It doesn’t have to be this way!
|Artists memorializing COVID victims.|
I mentioned earlier that the Neptune-opposite-Neptune configuration we see here is complicating our national Pluto return process with its distortion and confusion of our politics, its undermining of our institutions and in some cases, of our trust in those institutions and in democracy itself. As we saw in the January 6th insurrection, this is a phenomenon that has even impacted some military personnel (explained by this axis’s square to Sibly Mars). This coming August could be a stressful moment in all this, as transiting Neptune (Rx, Pisces) makes an exact hit opposite Sibly Neptune (22°25’ Virgo). On the upside, the next and last exact hit will be in March 2022 (still within this solar year), with Neptune transiting direct. At that point, Neptune will begin separating out of this opposition, and IMHO, it can’t happen too quickly.
SR Mars-Venus (Leo) oppose SR Saturn (Aquarius) and this axis t-squares SR Uranus-SR Moon (Taurus). What is not immediately evident here is that all but the SR Moon in this t-square closely conjoin Sibly house cusps, (9th, 3rd and 6th, respectively), meaning that they will be prominent factors in any change that comes down in the coming year. An international situation (9th house) appears to be developing that may require serious attention, and there’s potential for grass roots unrest (3rd) that could be addressed by channeling those energies into jobs, both civilian and military (6th).
|Will we be burning them next?|
Notice that Chiron occupies the SR 2nd house of values and resources and closely trines SR Mars-Venus (Leo); anything that can be done to extend a dignified, living wage to American workers will be helpful on multiple fronts. This Venus conjoins Sibly No. Node (Leo); our early leaders all enjoyed aristocratic, upper-crust roots and the original Constitution they wrote pretty much enshrined the aristocracy as our ruling class because the working class (those who didn’t own property and women, of course) was deemed too ignorant and uneducated to even vote. IMHO, we’re seeing a return to this level of arrogance in the current GOP efforts to restrict voting, and anyone can see that there’s a strong racial bias in those attempts. Perhaps this SR Venus-Chiron trine will bode well for passing a sane voting rights act that nullifies those attempts and returns human dignity and respect for all to this sacred democratic (small “d”) institution?
We can’t finish here without discussing how our Sibly Pluto return factors into all this—the fact is, it will be exact in February next year, so well within our brand spanking new solar year. Here we see that Sibly 2nd house Pluto (Rx, Capricorn) overlays SR Pluto (Rx, Capricorn), riding the 11-12 SR cusp. This juxtaposition reminds me of the kind of output we’ve seen from the Supreme Court recently—almost always weighing in on the side of big monied interests, as opposed to the People’s interests, more broadly. This goes for their new, hardline stance on voting rights (a resurrected Dred Scott-type decision comes to mind), and for their increasing willingness to support powerful corporations against labor forces attempting to unionize. This latter tendency has been consistent with the Court during Pluto’s Capricorn passage—this is what brought us the Citizens United decision in 2010 that basically put our elections up for sale to the highest bidder. Bottom line, there’s been a definite pro-corporate, anti-worker, anti-voter bias in this Court that seems designed to recreate our Founders’ original rule-by-aristocracy idea of democracy. What goes around comes around with Pluto, it appears.
Of course, a return to this regressive spin on democracy feels like a giant step backwards because it is. We know there’s a better, more equitable form of democracy available and most of us, I believe, have learned to consider that our birthright as U.S. citizens. So much so that we have probably been taking it for granted for far too long, especially if we’re not immigrants or persons of color who haven't had the luxury of taking anything for granted. This is another reason why the way in which we handle what remains of this Pluto return process is so critical to our future success as a nation.
Simply put, we’re at a crossroads where we can choose a system that privileges and empowers the few and the racially select at the expense of everyone else (maintaining them as a disgruntled permanent underclass), a system that is simply unsustainable because it creates nothing but tension and injustice; or we can insist upon a more equitable system that suits our pluralistic realities, distributes the blessings of opportunity more widely and with fewer obstacles, and lives up to our so-called democratic ideals of freedom and justice for all. Seems like an easy choice to me.
We’ve had 245 years to figure this out, and on this July 4th I will dare to borrow a metaphor from a very wise soul who spoke of seeing the top of a “Mountain” without ever quite getting there—a great Capricornian metaphor for the true ideals of democracy if there ever was one. No, we haven’t gotten to the top of that mountain yet because if we don’t all have a path up, none of us can really enjoy what we find up there. To my mind, that—not taking refuge in cynicism—is what gives us meaning as a society, and I have to believe that somewhere in our collective gut, heart and Soul there’s motivation to get this right.
Happy 4th of July, everyone - enjoy the break!
Raye Robertson is a practicing astrologer, writer and former educator. A graduate of the Faculty of Astrological Studies (U.K.), Raye focuses on mundane, collective-oriented astrology, with a particular interest in current affairs, U.S. history, culture and media, the astrology of generations, and public concerns such as education and health. She’s published articles on these topics in several key astrology journals over the years, including most recently, the TMA blog. See the Publications tab on this site for a list of Raye’s recent E-books on current topics, including the newly-released title, The Mundane Moon: an evolving cosmic story for “We the People.”
For information about individual chart readings, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
© Raye Robertson 2021. All rights reserved.